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Spokesman is a relatively young British brand aiming to bring some new ideas and designs to the cycling apparel market, using modern fabrics combined with a nod to the sport's heritage and legends. I've been testing a couple of its summer jerseys, the Climbers and Attack, which share a similar cut and some details but with some key differences, and I like what I've seen.
Spokesman is run by Nathan Gibbons, a veteran of the clothing industry, who thought he could bring something different to what is a fairly crowded market, using high-end technical fabrics at more affordable pricing. There are some really nice details – I particularly like the stretchy perforated fabric used on the slim-fit raw-cut sleeves on both jerseys.
The Climbers jersey is designed to keep you cool while toiling upwards. The front is made from a mesh material that allows air to get through even at lower speeds. Spokesman tells us its customer feedback led it to choose a material that was very breathable but not transparent. The back is made from a lightweight Lycra and the side panels are a different, stretchier mesh material.
It's a comfortable jersey, and the breathability is welcome if you're riding on a hot day. On the inside of the back there's a large print with the "Top Ten Must-Do Climbs" of Europe, each giving details like the average gradient, elevation and so on. It's a nice touch, although having only done two of them (and, a long time ago, having hitched a lift up the final stretches of the Tourmalet when my legs gave out before the top), it's certainly a reminder of work still to be done for me.
In case the climb took longer than you'd anticipated, the reflective pixel band across the rear will help drivers to pick you out of the gathering dusk.
Below it, there are a couple of large pockets in place of the more conventional three. It's an approach which works well if you need to stuff a jacket or gilet in there, the only downside being that it can be harder to find things without stopping if you've bunged a load of stuff in there. There's also a zipped pocket for a key or average-sized phone or wallet.
As I mentioned, the Attack jersey (below) shares a lot of the details of the Climbers, such as the lovely cuffs and the overall cut, which is – as far as I can tell – identical. The fabrics are the key point of difference. Here, a Lycra panel is used on the front, with a super-lightweight mesh on the rear. Spokesman tells us that this approach is designed to help regulate temperature through shorter bursts of intense energy such as in an attack, hence the name.
Again, there's a striking design on the inside of the back panel, this time commemorating "the longest solo attack" – a 253km effort by Albert Bourlon – with the year of that attack being shown on the outside of the pockets.
Spokesman isn't the first clothing brand to make reference to episodes from cycling's history, but as it is a sport where heritage and past glories are held so dearly, it is an approach that will undoubtedly resonate with many fans. While some do so using wool and other traditional materials, there's none of that here. All of the materials used in the Climbers and Attack jerseys are quality modern synthetics and, I'd argue, better for it in a summer jersey.
Both jerseys have fabric treatments to enhance moisture wicking and deter those pesky microbes and bacteria. I found they handled moisture pretty well on warmer days, and never once did I see a microbe while testing them. So that must work.
I found both jerseys to be excellent options for summer riding. On hotter days I probably preferred the mesh front of the Climbers to maximise cooling, but I wouldn't say I noticed a significant difference. Choose the one whose design you like best – I'd suggest both do a good job for climbing or heroic breaks.
The fit is slim but comfortable – they're not out-and-out aero jerseys, but I found the medium sat very nicely on my relatively slim frame. They have a dropped lower hem at the back with silicone gripper strips which kept them in place very well. Spokesman doesn't provide sizing guides but I mostly wear a medium jersey and these fitted me very well.
A couple of points about the neck – both jerseys have what Spokesman describes as a low-cut collar, but I'd probably describe as slightly loose. It's comfortable, but you wouldn't mistake it for something (this, for example) that had been optimised in a wind tunnel. There is a full-length flap behind the YKK camlock zip, but no "garage" flap between the pull and your throat – I sometimes noticed some irritation here.
At present Spokesman has a range of clothing for men and it says there are women's products in the pipeline. Ninety quid for a jersey isn't cheap – you can pay quite a lot less – but you can pay quite a lot more too. They're well made and I like the designs, so I'd say it's a fair price.
Both jerseys are available in a couple of colour options. Initially only available in some independent bike shops in Yorkshire, they are now available nationwide as well as from the Spokesman website.
Airy and comfortable performance summer jerseys with likeable references to hills and heroes
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Spokesman Climbers Jersey
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
When the road rises your temperature won't
The Climbers jersey is made for tough climbs and hot conditions
This jersey keeps you cool when the road and temperature rise
The Climbers jersey has an aerodynamic but comfortable fit which is tailored from 3 fabrics. The front panel is a very breathable (but not see through) mesh, and the back and shoulders are made from a performance stretch fabric, with high UPV protection. It has mesh panels to the sides for ventilation and the three back pockets are made from a sturdier mesh to prevent bagging when the pockets are filled with cargo. The back features a band of reflective pixel for visibility and the interior back panel features a To Do list of European climbs
Allez, allez, allez
Everything about this jersey is designed to make you lighter and faster.
This jersey provides the confidence you need to judge your attack to perfection
The Attack jersey, as the name suggests was designed to be lighter and faster. It is made from a high performance stretch fabric which is very quick drying, the sleeves are raw edge with a silicone band for lightness, the back panel is made from a lightweight mesh fabric which is extremely breathable. The back pockets feature the numbers 1947; the date of the legendary longest solo attack mounted by Albert Bourlon.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Low cut collar and raw edge cuffs for weight
Reflective pixel back panel (Climbers)
Mesh front panel for breathability but not see through (Climbers), Lycra (Attack)
3 durable rear pockets with zipped valuables pocket
Permanent wicking treatment
Mesh side-panels and cuff ends for additional breathability
Permanent anti-microbial and anti-bacterial treatment (silver ion technology) to prevent build-up of bacteria
SPF (Sun protection factor) AS/NZS 4399:1996 | 50+
Lovely slim sleeves - torso is slim but not tight.
No size guides, but it fitted like a fairly typical medium.
Fairly typical weight for summer jerseys.
It's a small brand so you'd expect to pay more than mainstream options - a fair price for what you're getting, but I wouldn't say it's a bargain.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Happy with 40°C washes, although the white Climbers jersey picked up a couple of stains on the rear Lycra which proved quite difficult to shift.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Pretty well in both cases, they've seen regular use whenever the sun comes out.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
I'm a big fan of raw-cut skinny sleeves and I've not seen the rather lovely perforated material used in the cuffs here. I like the designs too, with the large graphics panel on the inside detailing heroic climbs and exploits.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Not much - would be improved with a zip garage to prevent neck irritation from the puller.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
I've not come across Spokesman before doing this review, but I'm impressed with what the company has produced - technical and well-fitted jerseys with some nice design touches and quality fabrics.
About the tester
I usually ride: On-one Bish Bash Bosh My best bike is: Rose X-Lite CRS
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking
Jez spends his days making robots that drive cars but is happiest when on two wheels. His roots are in mountain biking but he spends more time nowadays on the road, occasionally racing but more often just riding.